Last month I had to move back to my childhood home. Back to my teenage bedroom, my Mum’s home-cooked dinners, my old village haunts. For two weeks I slept in my single bed, enveloped by brightly coloured walls, and surrounded by photos of my high school days. Meanwhile Phil remained back at our house alone. No don’t worry, my wonderful husband wasn’t the reason for me needing to escape our home… well not in any sinister way!When I got paused on the active transplant list, nearly two years ago, it caused shock-waves in my little family of three. Although the initial big tremors were ones of terror and fear and confusion, the aftershock was much more positive. Being paused created ripples of wonderful change. After the dust had cleared, we realised it was a brilliant opportunity for us to sort out the many aspects of our life that had been on hold for the duration of my illness. Like our home 🙂 Having developed Pulmonary Hypertension a mere six months after getting the keys, all our plans to refurbish and decorate and update it… were swiftly put on hold. The house transformation was cancelled. I didn’t have the energy or the brain to envision new rooms. Phil had neither the money nor the time to change them. And my body couldn’t cope with the noise or dust or stress or upheaval. Later, just as I started to strengthen, just as we began believing we could find a way to decorate despite my illness… I was put on the transplant list. Once again the house plans seemed impossible and impractical; as the huge project would be thwarted by one phone call. So for seven long years, we’ve been living with the seventies lampshade, the wood-chip wallpaper, the carpets so thin that you could feel the floor below. Living with it, but hating it.
But thankfully, being paused was a blessing in disguise. Suddenly we had time to make the changes we were so desperate for. So we did. We’ve transformed a lot. And last month, Phil and a decorator finally finished the last three rooms! As one of them was the heart of the home -the hallway, stairs and landing- I couldn’t stay. Wallpaper strippings, paint fumes, disintegrating old carpets… and dust dust dust. My home was uninhabitable for me. So I moved back in with my old teddies.And it was lovely. My wonderful Mum is one of the kindest souls around. And as always, she looked after me and Lottie. A cuppa and fruit in bed each morning, a few trips out and about, and a menu of all my favourite childhood meals! (including Mr Brain’s Faggots! 😛 ) She was and is a true SuperMum! 🙂 It was great to have time to just hang out with her and Mark. To gossip over cuppas, laugh at trashy live TV and debate politics over Ice Cream Specials. And it was brilliant to wander around my village and the local area; spotting new changes, reminiscing about the past, and introducing Lottie to the smells and mud of the local parks! It was lovely to be back home. 😀
Walking through the door after my fortnight away was wonderful. Phil and I were giddy with happiness. Overjoyed, excited… and very very relieved that it was finally finished. Complete. Job ticked off. ‘Cause living here, for the past seven years, hasn’t been easy. Unexpectedly and strangely, it’s been difficult. When we collected the keys we were brimming with hope and excitement. We had so many plans. Rooms to be decorated, walls to be knocked down, gardens to be transformed. We thought within a few years it would be a family home, created with love and filled with children. But my illness paused everything. For five years our house remained largely untouched, stuck, on hold. And the longer it remained unchanged, the more sad it seemed that we weren’t able to complete our plans. The bumpy walls and ancient floors became a kind of visual, illuminated, in your face, 24/7, never escape, all-day, every-day reminder of how our lives weren’t what we had planned. So I long ago, fell out of love with our house.
Furthermore, as my health improved, so too did my desperate want and need for change. In the early days I didn’t notice the tired decor, my mind was full elsewhere. But it increasingly became all I could see. Sitting on my sofa or in my bed or cooking food, I’d notice so much to change. My perfectionist brain would spot every fault, every crack, every stain, every rip, every mark, every threadbare patch, every fade, every outdated and unwanted feature. I wanted them to go, to be mended, to be decorated… but I couldn’t do it myself. I wasn’t well enough to change them. So over the years, the little flame of irritation inside me, grew into a huge fire of frustration. Over-whelming frustration. I’ve screamed “I hate this house” far too many times.
Moreover, the longer that I had PH, the more the house no longer reflected the people we’d become, or the way we were running our lives. In recent years, we’ve both made a huge effort to create a new life for ourselves alongside my PH. A Phoenix rising from the flames. We’ve found new ways to be happy, made new worlds to love, dreamed up new futures. We’ve moved forward, we’ve moved on. Our philosophy, our outlook, our approach, has all changed. We’re not the same people who bought this property. Therefore it remaining untouched and stalled and paused felt wrong. An inaccurate reflection of us. We’d moved on in every way… except with sorting out our brick box. Yes, living here has been surprisingly hard. But now it’s done. Seven long long years after we bought it, and a very different life later, the final three rooms have been finished. And we think it looks fab. 🙂 Although there are still jobs to be done, pictures to be hung, cupboards to be sorted… the main work is over. Every single room has now been decorated and modernized. Phew. 😀 No, it’s not the house we pictured on the day we collected the keys. But it’s the house for us, right here, right now. It’s not worse, it’s not better… it’s just different. Just like our lives. And we love it. At last our house has become our home.
And if we ever need to make further big changes, I’ll happily move back to my Mum’s. 🙂